POLL: Should Artists Be Paid By Websites Who Post Their Lyrics?
“If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May queen.”
Your total is $1.75. Thank you for shopping at Lyric Depot. CHA CHING!!!
So how much is your favorite artist’s lyric worth to you? More specifically, how much do you think it’s worth to websites devoted specifically to song lyrics. I read an article recently that says David Lowery, frontman and songwriter for the band Cracker, is taking a stand against websites he believes make money off song lyrics but don’t pay any of the songwriters who wrote them.
How about this for a statistic? There are roughly five million searches for lyrics per day on Google, according to LyricFind. Those searches will lead to websites that post ads. Those ads are putting money in somebody’s pockets. That somebody is not the artist.
In his investigating, Lowery found out that there are more people searching to find lyrics to his songs than searching to illegally download mp3s of his music. After a while he decided he’d had enough and released what is called The Undesirable Lyric Website List. The National Music Publishers Association took hold of the list and announced that it would be sending take-down notices to every single website on that list. At the front of the line was the very popular Rap Genius.
Rap Genius has been around for a few years and gained quite a bit of popularity in its short time. The founder of Rap Genius, Ilan Zechory, says the site is not just a transcription of lyrics. It’s more like Facebook where fans and artists get to write on discussion boards. Even with that defense, Rap Genius recently announced that it’s going to now pay songwriters for posting their lyrics. Apparently they feel it’s easier than fighting with music publishers who have proven to be on the winning end of these types of cases more often than not.
Lowery’s fight does appear to be paying off, however. Along with Rap Genius other sites have also started paying but it's still not much. Lowery calls himself “a hundredaire” from the profits. He’d like to see more revenue coming in for his and other musician’s lyrical efforts.
Artists should be paid by these sites for their work. Writing lyrics is just that: Work. And if these websites are making money off of someone else's work, they need to pay up. The question is: How much? That would take some negotiating between lawyers, accountants and artists. They’ll need a lot of coffee since it may take a while to sort out the dollars and cents.